Brad Ellsworth

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Brad Ellsworth
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 8th district
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byJohn Hostettler
Succeeded byLarry Bucshon
Sheriff of Vanderburgh County
In office
January 6, 1999 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byRay Hamner
Succeeded byEric Williams
Personal details
Born (1958-09-11) September 11, 1958 (age 65)
Jasper, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseShannon Ellsworth
Alma materUniversity of Southern Indiana
Indiana State University

John Bradley Ellsworth[1] (born September 11, 1958) is an American politician who was the U.S. representative for Indiana's 8th congressional district from 2007 to 2011. In 2010, he was the Democratic candidate for a seat in the United States Senate, but he was defeated by Dan Coats, a former Senator, by 55% to 40%.

Early life and education

Ellsworth was born in Jasper, Indiana, the son of Margaret (née Scherle) and Jim Ellsworth.[2] He spent his early years in Huntingburg, Indiana. When he was still in grade school, his family moved to Evansville, where his father took a job as a crane operator in Warrick County's Alcoa plant. He is the youngest of four siblings. His brother Eric is the president and CEO of the YMCA of greater Indianapolis.[citation needed] His brother Joe is a founding partner and president of Fire & Rain Marketing/Communications headquartered in Evansville.[citation needed]

After graduating from William Henry Harrison High School in 1976, he attended Indiana State University-Evansville (now the University of Southern Indiana) where he received a bachelor's degree in sociology, and became a member of Sigma Tau Gamma. Ellsworth worked in the paint and hardware department at Sears while in school to pay for his education. He later received a master's degree in criminology from Indiana State University. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology also gave him an honorary doctorate of humane letters at their 2008 commencement.[3]

Law enforcement career

In 1982, Ellsworth began a career in the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department.[citation needed] Over the next 23 years, he held every merit rank, and was twice decorated for heroism in the line of duty. [citation needed] While serving in the Department, Brad Ellsworth instituted the first Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation. He later attended and graduated from the FBI National Academy.[citation needed]

In 1998, Ellsworth ran for sheriff and won by a large margin.[citation needed] He was unopposed running for a second term.[citation needed] In 2005, he announced that he would be running in the Democratic primary for Indiana's 8th congressional district, which was then held by six-term Republican incumbent John Hostettler.

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman Brad Ellsworth during the 110th Congress

Ellsworth is a conservative Democrat with a populist streak. He opposes abortion and gun control.[citation needed] Ellsworth also represented a socially conservative swath of Indiana. However, on economic issues, Ellsworth usually votes more with the Democratic party. [citation needed] After his election to Congress, he joined the Blue Dog Coalition.[citation needed]

Ellsworth voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in January of that year.[4] He voted for the final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[5]

He was one of 16 Democrats who voted against providing federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.[6]

Ellsworth condemned the National Right to Life Committee for not supporting the extension of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover more families. While Ellsworth voted against an earlier version of the bill, he joined the other nine signatories in voting for the final bill.[7]

In July 2007, Ellsworth designated $2 million to extend the John T. Myers lock chamber on the Ohio River and $750,000 for manufacturing and engineering equipment for the University of Southern Indiana.[citation needed] Two other projects Ellsworth brought to southwestern Indiana were the construction of a campus perimeter road system at USI for $350,000 and a portion of University Parkway construction also at $350,000.[citation needed]

In November 2009, Ellsworth wrote an amendment restricting federal funding for elective abortions. Americans United for Life asserted that this language does not eliminate the public funding of abortion in the House bill, but instead only requires said federal subsidies to be separately disbursed by an independent contractor.[8] Ellsworth later voted for the Stupak Amendment. He eventually voted for the Senate language of the healthcare bill lacking the Stupak Amendment's anti-abortion language.[9]

Smaller projects for which Ellsworth gained House approval include $200,000 to restore Evansville's Alhambra Theater, $135,000 for emergency warning sirens in Vanderburgh County and $75,000 to train utility workers at Ivy Tech Community College.[10]

Committee assignments

Political campaigns


Parade for Ellsworth

As of June 30, 2006, Hostettler had raised $287,000 and had $195,000 on hand, compared to Ellsworth's $1,036,000 raised and $676,000 on hand. However, Hostettler had won several campaigns against opponents with more funding than him. In addition, the National Republican Congressional Committee had spent $163,000 in his district as of mid-July 2006. (The DCCC, its counterpart, had spent $166,000 for Ellsworth as of that date.)[11][12]

The Cook Political Report, an independent non-partisan newsletter, listed the race as a toss-up as of mid-August.[13] As of early September, the Rothenberg Political Report called Hostettler one of the three most endangered House incumbents in the country; Chris Cillizza, political analyst for The Washington Post, ranked Hostettler as the most vulnerable House incumbent in the nation; and Robert D. Novak, a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report, also rated Hostettler's seat a likely win for Ellsworth.[14]

In mid-October, an opinion poll commissioned by the Evansville Courier & Press showed Ellsworth leading Hostettler, 55% to 32%.[15]

Hostettler debated Ellsworth on October 23, 2006. The debate was at public television station WVUT at Vincennes University, and involved the League of Women Voters.[16]

Ellsworth won a landslide victory on November 7, 2006. He took 61% of the vote to Hostettler's 39%, which was by far the largest defeat for a House incumbent in the 2006 election. The seat was the first of 30 to flip from Republican to Democratic in the 2006 cycle.


Two years later, on November 4, 2008, Ellsworth won reelection, easily defeating Republican candidate Greg Goode 65% to 35%.

2010 U.S. Senate campaign

On February 19, 2010, Ellsworth announced his candidacy in the 2010 U.S. Senate election for the seat in the United States Senate held by Democrat Evan Bayh, who was retiring.[17] Since Bayh made his announcement the day before the deadline for filing for the primary, no Democrat was able to gather a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for the primary ballot, forcing the Democratic state committee to choose the Senate nominee.[18][19] Ultimately, the committee chose Ellsworth.

He was defeated in the November election by Dan Coats, who had previously held the seat from 1989 to 1999, taking 40 percent of the vote. Ellsworth even lost his own congressional district; he carried Vigo County (home to Terre Haute) but failed to carry his home county of Vanderburgh.[20] State representative Trent Van Haaften replaced Ellsworth on the ballot for the 8th, but lost to Republican Larry Bucshon with only 37 percent of the vote. The Democrats have crossed the 40 percent mark in the district only once since Ellsworth left office.

Following his defeat, Ellsworth joined Evansville-based Vectren Corporation as president of its southern Indiana gas and electric utility division.[21]

Electoral history

United States House of Representatives General Election, 2006
Indiana's 8th congressional district
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Brad Ellsworth 131,019 61.0%
Republican John Hostettler (incumbent) 83,704 39.0%
Turnout 214,723 46%
Democratic gain from Republican Swing
United States House of Representatives General Election, 2008
Indiana's 8th congressional district
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Brad Ellsworth (incumbent) 188,693 64.7% +3.7%
Republican Greg Goode 102,769 35.3%
Turnout 291,462 60%
Democratic hold Swing
United States Senate General election results, 2010
Indiana's Class III Senate Seat[22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Dan Coats 952,116 54.60% +17.37%
Democratic Brad Ellsworth 697,775 40.01% -21.64%
Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris 94,330 5.39% +4.27%
Majority 254,341 14.58%
Total votes 1,743,921 100
Republican gain from Democratic Swing


  1. ^ "2007 Financial Disclosure Statement" (PDF). The Washington Post. 2007-05-07.
  2. ^ Rothstein, Betsy (2007-08-01). "50 Most Beautiful fallout: Rep. Ellsworth's mom questions her son's placement on list". The Hill. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  3. ^ "Rose-Hulman Class of 2008 Encouraged to Help Make a Difference". 24 May 2008. Retrieved 28 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Votes by Brad Ellsworth | Congressional votes database |". Archived from the original on 2012-09-29. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  5. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 70". Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. 2009-02-13.
  6. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 20". Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  7. ^ - Dems lash out at activist group on abortion issue
  8. ^ Americans United for Life: Rep. Ellsworth’s Proposal Does Not Prevent Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform Archived March 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. November 5, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2009.
  9. ^ "NEWS/TALK 1010 WCSI Radio - WCSI Weather - Columbus Indiana". 2010-03-22. Archived from the original on 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  10. ^ Langhorne, Thomas B., "Is pork Protecting Ellsworth?" Evansville Courier and Press, July 29. 2007.
  11. ^ Thomas B. Langhorne, "Hostettler 'war chest' a little light, pundit says", Evansville Courier & Press, July 17, 2006
  12. ^ Maureen Groppe, "Indiana candidates raise big bucks for tight races: $1 million or more in war chest isn't unusual this competitive year, finance reports show", Indianapolis Star, July 18, 2006
  13. ^ Competitive Race Chart Archived 2006-10-25 at the Wayback Machine, Cook Political Report, August 16, 2006
  14. ^ Thomas B. Langhorne, "Hostettler inactivity curious", Evansville Courier & Press, September 3, 2006
  15. ^ Thomas B. Langhorne, "Ellsworth widens lead in poll: ISU questions likely voters in 8th District follow-up survey", Evansville Courier & Press, October 15, 2006
  16. ^ "Hostettler agrees to debate date", Evansville Courier & Press, August 30, 2006
  17. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (2010-02-19). "Politics Nation - It's Official: Ellsworth Enters Indiana Senate Race". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  18. ^ Cillizza, Chris (February 15, 2010). "Evan Bayh won't seek re-election, Senate majority in play?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-15.
  19. ^ Martin, Jonathan (February 15, 2010). "Challenger adds to post-Bayh chaos". Politico.
  20. ^ "2010 Election Results - State of Indiana" (PDF). Indiana Election Division. 2010-12-27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2014-12-24.
  21. ^ "Vectren picks Ellsworth as division president". Indianapolis Star. 2011-03-04. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
  22. ^ Secretary of State : Elections Division: Election Foundation Wide

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Indiana
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Baron Hill
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative